The Importance of Uninsured/Underinsured Insurance Coverage

The Importance of Uninsured/Underinsured Insurance Coverage

By: Shanelle Clarke, Esq.

Choosing an automobile insurance carrier can be a challenging task. Choosing the right coverage
can be more challenging. In Georgia, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is not
mandatory, but is necessary. O.C.G.A. 33-7-11 is the relevant statute for uninsured motorist law.
Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage is important to have, in addition to the coverage
required for motorists, in the event you are in an accident and the wrongdoer does not have
enough coverage to compensate for your injuries or the wrongdoer does not have any coverage to
compensate for your injuries.

Types of uninsured motorist coverage:
1) Add on/Stackable Uninsured Motorist Coverage allows motorists to add or stack the additional
coverage on top of what the person who caused the accident has. For example: Mary is hit by
Sally and has a broken arm and two broken legs. Sally is insured with ABC Insurance and has
$50,000 worth of coverage. Mary’s case is valued at $200,000. Mary has added on UM
coverage with XYZ Insurance in the amount of $100,000. Mary can stack her policy on top of
Sally’s and recover $150,000. If financially feasible, it is best to get at least $100,000 in UM
coverage to protect yourself and family. If $100,000 is not doable, then at least $50,000 in UM
coverage should be obtained. However, the minimum available in Georgia is $25,000.
2) Non-Stackable/Diminishing Value Underinsured Motorist Coverage- allows motorists to have
UM coverage, however it is diminished by the amount of coverage the person who caused the
accident has. For example: Mary is hit by Sally and has a broken arm and two broken legs. Sally
is insured with ABC Insurance and has $50,000 worth of coverage. Mary’s case is valued at
$200,000. Mary has UM coverage with XYZ Insurance in the amount of $100,000. XYZ
Insurance company will deduct $50,000 from the amount Mary has coverage for ($100,000-
$50,000), leaving only $50,000 available for Mary to recover. So in actuality, Mary will recover
$100,000 ($50,000 from ABC Insurance + $50,000 from XYZ insurance). In the event the UM
coverage is equal to the amount of coverage the person who caused the accident has, only the
wrong doer’s policy amount will be available. Take our example above, but this time Sally has
$50,000 worth of coverage with ABC Insurance and Mary has $50,000 worth of UM coverage
with XYZ insurance, Mary’s claim is valued at $200,000, she only has available to her $50,000.
Her UM coverage is diminished by the amount of coverage Sally has.

3) No Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage- without this coverage there will be no compensation
for your injuries if you are involved in an accident and the wrong doer’s insurance denies
coverage for the accident or the wrongdoer has no insurance coverage. For example Gabby, who
is insured with Amazon Insurance, is hit by Mark, who is driving a car insured with Cricket
Insurance. Gabby’s car is totaled, she is injured and her case is valued at $30,000. Cricket
Insurance denies coverage because Mark was not authorized to drive the vehicle they insure.
Gabby does not have uninsured/underinsured coverage, Gabby cannot recover anything.